Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Published by: Flatiron Books on January 31, 2017

Review Source: Publisher, Netgalley

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Light Romance

Plot: Ever since their mother abandoned Scarlett and Tella with their abusive father, both have longed for escape. Will Caraval, an annual contest where the winner can win an actual wish, be the solution to all their problems, or something darker?

Review: This one started out so strong, but didn’t quite maintain till the end. Here’s the breakdown:

What had me hooting:

  • I’d totally go to Caraval. Imagine a tropical island with a Victorian feel. Parlors swathed in fabrics of every jewel tone imaginable, ornate fixtures, gondola rides… I’m into it! Garber paints a rich description of everything that surrounds the players in Caraval, from costumes to architecture. It goes a long way towards firmly planting the reader in the realm she has created, and while the idea of a “magical place full of opulence” has been done before, Garber’s still touched on some nuances that I appreciated.
  • I am so intrigued by the Legend (the games master of Caraval), that I almost can’t even. I wish there was more of him, but the bits I did get where some of my favorite moments of the book by far.
  • Oh yassss, I see a sequel. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, so I won’t go into detail here. I don’t think we are done with Caraval by a long shot, and something tells me book two will far surpass this one.

What I lost a few feathers over:

  • Get it together, Scarlett! One thing that always gets my goat is when the main character turns out to be a wishy-washy female that waits to be saved. Scarlett drove me nuts with her flightiness, and didn’t really pull it together by the end either. Between her bumbling around and the insta-love that happens… sign. She could have been better as a main character.
  • Why are they so rough with the ladies? Spoiler alert, but almost all the men in this story manhandle (pardon the pun) females like it’s their job. The physical abuse and potential rape scene turned me off to this book. Not because I can’t handle it, but because it felt unnecessary and forced. Granted, I am reviewing from an ARC and these scenes might develop into something with more substance by the final print, but so far I was not impressed.
  • I’d like a little more island flare. While Garber doesn’t come out and blatantly say it, it’s pretty obvious that Scarlett’s island is based at least little bit on the Caribbean Islands during the colonial era. While Garber alludes this here and there, I feel like she missed a powerful opportunity to really highlight the diversity and culture of the region. This would have also been an awesome opportunity to include more POC. Maybe the final cut will.

Final hoot: Despite some flaws, I still enjoyed this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if Caraval ends up with quite a fan base longing for more.

Rating: 3 out of 5 hoots

Who Should Snag It: Anyone looking for light romance set in a fairly fantastical world. 

*I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*

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    1. I’d love to hear what you think once you’ve read it!


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